sleeves

my father’s fingers brought her sleep

“my father moved through dooms of love,” e.e. cummings
i wear my father on my sleeves

it is a childhood memory
specific and vivid as if true

my father taught me how to wear
a collared shirt properly tucked in

carefully rolling up each sleeve
three times with the cuff neat and smooth

maybe on the same day he taught me
how to tie a necktie like a grown man

my father was wrong about many things
but i carry him in my collared shirts and ties

i wear my father on my sleeves

—P.L.Thomas

the universe (Year 61)

no Body understands the universe

a few never even consider the universe
they are lucky

many exclaim that they know the Universe
they are dangerous

others spend their lives trying to understand the universe
they struggle to sleep

some know only one thing: that they do not understand the universe
somehow they sleep

the universe speaks to the fewest among us
they listen

no Body understands the universe

—P.L. Thomas

december 2021 prayer

The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.

“The Second Coming,” William Butler Yeats
the day is blanketed gray
the sky the color of smoke

the entire world burned
until nothing remains except ash

i cannot feel anything
because i feel everything

a tree stripped of bark
trunk and limbs the color of bone

we sat in cars houses apartments
watching through our windows the world razed

maybe next year will be better we pray
if we stay inside waiting and hoping it true

—P.L. Thomas

autumn

autumn is a mother fucker

trees all topped
in yellows and reds

the colors of death
before the leaves all fall

we gather around smiling
“isn’t the foliage beautiful”

ignoring the browned leaves
crunching as we walk

—P.L. Thomas

blue&black

Screen Shot 2021-09-22 at 9.32.59 AM
Courtesy Steven Hyatt (https://www.instagram.com/steventhyatt/)

“Paint myself in blue and red and black and gray/All of the beautiful colors are very, very meaningful”

“Mr. Jones,” Counting Crows

of late i have been wearing
too many shirts along the spectrum of blue

blue is a heavy color to wear
not like black which is the color of no light

the opposite of the sun
which is the color of all light

blue&black sit against the skin
like the aftermath of tripping and falling

being tossed around below deck
with an ocean raging all around you

out of the blue i keep losing my balance
distracted by anything colored the absence of you

it is never about the certainty of the falling
but the aftermath of the landing in blue&black

10 days after the falling and the landing
the bruising jaundiced and bone sore to the touch

i have begun choosing only shirts in gray
and walking steadily as if you are holding my hand

—P.L. Thomas

dragons

“People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons. From within.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin

The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader and the Imagination
no autopsy necessary
for the self-defeating deniers

burst open at the sternum
like a scene from Alien

with a frantic “o shit” look 
on their grimacing faces

littering our streets and floors
like exterminated cockroaches 

scattered about for the rest of us
who revered the possibility of “dragons”

either to walk around the decay
or risk our lives cleaning up their mess

—P.L. Thomas

the existential couple: “the struggle itself”

Yes, I’m listening, I’m listening

I can tell that you are serious

“90-Mile Water Wall,” The National
the existential couple loved each other 
like shouldering a boulder up a mountain

watching it slip away each pause at the top
before descending silently hand-in-hand 

the boulder of course was their love
their burden and their purpose forever

watching them from a distance in the valley
many saw only the burden of a boulder

philosophers and poets understood “the struggle itself”
imploring us to imagine the existential couple happy

the existential couple loved each other 
like shouldering a boulder up a mountain

watching it slip away each pause at the top
before descending silently hand-in-hand 

—P.L. Thomas

did we (this story of me and you)

Just come outside and leave with me

“Day I Die,” The National

did we fall in love
the way we fall asleep

softly and then hard
reaching one for the other
through dreams and tangled covers

•

this is our true
i will die on you
leaving you blue
our days too few
there’s nothing we can do
this story of me and you

•

loving is not dreaming
living is not pretending

•

did we fall in love
the way we fall asleep

softly and then hard
reaching one for the other
through dreams and tangled covers

—P.L. Thomas